Central schemes welcome but funding must be through state: Mamata

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Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service
Kolkata, September 22

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to the Centre, saying the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme and Ayushman Bharat schemes will be implemented in West Bengal if the funds are routed through the state government.

In a letter to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Banerjee said the state government has already introduced the ‘Krishak Bandhu’ scheme for the farmers.

“However, we will be happy to provide benefits to the farmers under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme. In that case, the central government may transfer the requisite fund direct to the state government for further disbursement with full responsibility to the beneficiaries through the state government machinery,” she wrote.

Under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, the central government provides Rs 6,000 annually in three equal instalments to farmers. The amount is directly transferred into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries through direct benefit transfer (DBT) mode.

Mamata wrote that under the Krishak Bandhu scheme every farmer/sharecropper receives Rs 5,000 from state government. Under the scheme the next of kin gets Rs 2 lakh if a farmer in the age group of 18-60 years passes away. More than 73 lakh farmers in the state are covered under the scheme, Banerjee wrote.

In a separate letter to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Banerjee said that under the ‘Swasthya Sathi’ scheme the state government was providing free treatment to the people of the state.

“Ayushman Bharat Scheme may be extended by the government of India with entire 100 per cent expenditure for the scheme in such a case, the entire funding for the scheme may be routed through the state government,” she said.

Reputed as the world’s largest government healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat is funded with 60 per cent contribution coming from the central government and the rest from the state.

Mamata, however, wrote to the Union Health Minister that under the Swasthya Sathi scheme the state government not only provided free treatment at government hospitals but also free treatment, medicine and diagnostics at private facilities of up to Rs 5 lakh annually per family in critical illnesses like cancer, heart disease, kidney ailments, etc. More than 7.5 crore people in Bengal are covered under the scheme, she wrote.

Both the letters were written on September 9 and released to the media on Tuesday evening.

The letters were released after the BJP and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar questioned Banerjee’s opposition to the farm bills when her government has not implemented the central scheme for the benefit of farmers.

In the letter to Tomar, Banerjee said the state government introduced the Krishak Bandhu scheme much before the PM-Kishan Samman Nidhi scheme.

‘Cat is out of the bag’

 West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday hit out at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for writing to the Centre.

Addressing the press at the Raj Bhavan soon after the two letters written by the chief minister were made public, Dhankhar asked why was this demand being raised instead of direct transfer of funds to beneficiaries as in other states.

Stating that the “cat is out of the bag”, Dhankhar noted that the chief minister’s proposal will benefit “non- state actors” who are already in control of the corridors of power in the state.

“The heart of the scheme is a direct transfer without middlemen, without any cut, and the (state) government wants this money,” the governor said.

He also questioned why it has taken the chief minister so long to propose the implementation of the schemes in the state.

“Have we not seen what happened in Amphan relief distribution? Unimaginable corruption has happened, deserving ones have not got it, while the undeserving got it,” he alleged.

Large-scale corruption in Amphan relief has been put under the carpet with no case having been registered, Dhankhar claimed.

 He said that how could one, believing in transparency, accountability and in the interest of farmers ask for the routing instead of it reaching directly to the farmers.

“Each of our farmers has lost Rs 12,000 owing to non- implementation of the PM-Kisan,” he said.

The governor further said that he has written to the chief minister at least half a dozen times on the issue and even on August 15 the issue was raised by him during her visit to the Raj Bhavan.

“What is shocking and worrisome is the last part of her letter, where the chief minister says we are doing enough,” Dhankhar said.

The governor said that he was made to read in the Assembly that Rs 700 crore have been spent by the West Bengal government under its Krishak Bandhu scheme, which he said is not even 10 per cent of Rs 8,400 crore that the state’s farmers could have got from the PM-Kisan scheme.

“You want to compromise the interest of the farmers by saying send the money to us. Corruption was 100 per cent plugged in PM-Kisan by direct transfer,” he said. With PTI


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